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Cover: Loco for cocoa

Recipes with desserts

26Jul 12

Intense Little Chocolate Pots

Intense Little chocolate potsDip into heaven with these Intense Little Chocolate Pots…

They are a great dessert to make the night before a special meal and leave to set in the fridge. You can make them on the same day you wan to eat them, of course, but be sure to allow yourself a good couple of hours for setting and chilling the chocolate. The servings are small, very rich, and will complete a celebration meal perfectly alongside a glass of pink champagne.

This is one I tend to do when there’s a grown-up’s birthday in the family; or to round off an evening meal with a little romance. Don’t forget the candles and the music! Intense little chocolate pots are also beautiful served with soft amaretti biscuits or these hard Italian Biscotti Di Prato.

For yummy variations to this recipe, try using Lindt intense orange chocolate, a good dark mint chocolate, or one with hazelnut or almond pieces nestled inside. They are great with just the spice dusting, but will also look beautiful if you top them off with a round of cream, or scatter them with toasted almonds or chopped hazelnuts – all you need is a little imagination to create these again and again with different flavours and garnishes.

Intense Little Chocolate Pots
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Intense Little Chocolate Pots are a great for grown-up birthdays and romantic nights in!
Ingredients
  • 250g good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 590ml single cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • 30g caster sugar
  • Cocoa powder for dusting
  • Cinnamon powder for dusting
  • Icing sugar for dusting
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC.
  2. Heat the cream and the chocolate together very slowly and gently in a heavy-based saucepan, stirring the ingredients together. Be very careful not to let the mixture boil, as this will curdle the cream.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks together with the whole egg and with the sugar. Now combine with the chocolate and cream mixture.
  4. Strain the mixture through into little round or teardrop-shaped oven-proof ramekins. Place the pots onto a roasting tray and pour 1cm of water around them before covering with foil and baking for around 60 mins until the mixture just begins to set.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature before transferring to the fridge to set, which will take at least another 60 mins.
  6. Sift over with a light dusting of cocoa powder, icing sugar and cinnamon powder.
  7. Serve like this or with a spoonful of cream to top, before dusting over the topping.

 

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15Jun 12

Almond and Apricot Chocolate Brownies

Almond and Apricot Chocolate BrowniesChocolate Brownies of any description are pretty heavenly.  Rich, moist and gooey!  Eaten warm with ice-cream is always my favourite way to devour them!  Brownies are often made with walnuts, but I want to give you a slightly different idea. 

Almond and apricot chocolate brownies have all the gooey richness of a classic brownie, but they offer a different kind of sweetness and crunch.  You can try experimenting with other fruit and nuts too.  Any variation is good fun to make, and lip-smackingly tasty!  Just be sure not to overcook your brownies, or they will be disappointingly dry.

Also, try this Go Free Chocolate Brownie recipe, which is gluten-free, wheat-free and dairy-free. Perfect for large groups with special dietary needs.

Ingredients:

  • 300g good dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 200g good milk chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 220g unsalted butter, left to soften
  • 220g light muscovado sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 75g self-raising flour
  • 100g almonds, roughly chopped
  • 75g breakfast apricots, drained, excess juice squeezed out, and roughly torn

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.  Grease and then line a shallow baking tray with grease-proof paper.
  2. Melt the dark chocolate slowly together with the butter in a large saucepan, stirring well.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs together with the sugar until creamy and light, then stir in the melted dark chocolate.  Once well mixed, add the flour, the almond and apricot pieces, and the roughly chopped milk chocolate.  Combine everything together with a wooden spoon.
  4. Spoon the mixture out into the lined baking tray and bake for around 40 mins until the centre of the cake feels firm to the touch but soft directly underneath the surface.  The trick with brownies is never to overcook them. You need to look out for the golden moment, and take them from the oven before they begin to go dry.
  5. If you’re not going to eat the brownies straight away, leave the brownie to cool in the tin.  Once cooled, turn it out onto a chopping board and cut it into squares.

Note: If you want to serve some of the brownie hot and fresh, you can remove the part you want from the tray as soon as it is cooked, and serve it in bowls with ice-cream. To make it fruitier, try topping with bits of strawberries and apricots. It will fall apart and be ever-so gooey!  Then you can leave the remainder of the cake to cool in the tray, to cut into servings and store.

Another idea for preparing it to eat hot, is to bake the brownie mix in smaller pots or ramekins to serve straight from the oven with cream and ice-cream.  Or you could even pop a square of brownie in the microwave for a few seconds to warm it at any time.  So many ways to eat a brownie!  Yum!

Time: 20 mins preparation, 45 mins baking

Cocoa Treats: 18 squares

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06Jun 12

Choc Chip Flapjacks

Choc Chip FlapjacksFlapjacks are such a classic old favourite.  They are also a great way to get the benefits of oats into children who can’t bring themselves to enjoy porridge. (If they do like it, try this wholesome oats recipe.)  And let’s face it; we never really grow out of the comfort of a home-baked flapjack, even when we’re all grown-up.

Oats are a good source of some B vitamins, and also contain iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc, amongst other nutrients.  The humble oat is packed with soluble fibre which is thought to help reduce high blood cholesterol levels.  They also have a low GI (glycaemic index) so they are absorbed slowly into the blood stream, which helps to keep blood sugar levels stable. As you can see, oats offer some good health benefits for all age groups.

We have to admit here; however, that once those little oats are coated and doused in golden syrup, butter and sugar, that yes, they are rather full of calories.  But as afternoon snacks go, you can be sure you’re getting some good energy and nutrition into your body too.  And well, I couldn’t give you a flapjack recipe without including chocolate could I?  So here’s how to make some very yummy choc chip flapjacks.

Ingredients:

  • 400g porridge oats
  • 230g unsalted butter or margarine
  • 230g light muscovado sugar
  • 300g good quality milk chocolate bar chopped into small pieces, or milk chocolate chips
  • 180g golden syrup

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter with the sugar and the golden syrup, mixing well as the ingredients melt, and then leave the mixture to cool completely.
  2. Grease a baking tray with a little butter and preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the porridge oats and the chocolate together. Gradually fold in the syrupy mixture and stir well until all of the ingredients are very well combined.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the baking tray and level off the surface with a wooden spoon.
  5. Bake the giant flapjack in the oven for about 20-25 mins until the edges of the mix begin to turn a golden brown.  Remove and leave to cool in the tray.  Once cooled, transfer the large biscuit onto a chopping board and cut into small bars.  They are delicious served freshly baked, but you can also store them in an airtight container.

Time: 20 mins to prepare, plus cooling time.  20-30 mins to cook

Cocoa Treats: 20-24 pieces

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03Jun 12

Choc Chip Ice Cream

Choc Chip Ice CreamThis is a traditional home-made choc chip ice cream recipe.  No ice cream machines or churners necessary, just the time and the patience to do it all yourself.

Once made, you could also convert it into a choc chip milkshake, using similar steps as with this white chocolate milkshake.

 

Ingredients:

  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 300ml milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 190g good dark chocolate, broken into pieces or chocolate chips
  • 110g good milk chocolate, broken into pieces or chocolate chips
  • 300ml double cream

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Begin by making a custard.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks together with the cornflour, the sugar and a good splash of milk.  Heat the remaining milk on the hob in a saucepan, bringing it up to the boil.  Pour the hot milk from the saucepan into the mixing bowl, combining it with the egg and sugar mixture, then transfer everything back into the saucepan and return it to the heat.  Cook the mixture gently, stirring continuously until the custard thickens and leaves a thin coat on the back of a metal or wooden spoon.  It is important to keep the heat gentle or you may curdle the ingredients.
  2. Take the pan off the heat, add the dark chocolate, letting it sit within the mixture until it has melted, before stirring it in evenly.  Cut a circle of greaseproof paper and lay it over the top of the chocolate custard to stop it from forming a skin, and then leave it aside to cool.
  3. Once the chocolate custard is cold, pour the cream into it and whisk together.  Put the chocolate and cream mixture into a freezer-proof container with a lid and freeze it for 2-3 hours, or long enough for it to freeze around the edges.
  4. Transfer the mixture into a large bowl, and using a fork and a mashing action, break down the ice and stir the mixture around.  Put it back in the container and freeze again for around 2 hours, or until the edges have re-frozen.  You will need to repeat this process a couple more times during the setting period, adding in the milk chocolate pieces at the third or fourth time, but add the chocolate after you’ve finished mashing and once you are ready to stir.
  5. Once the ice cream is fully set, transfer it to the fridge about 50 minutes before you want to eat it, so that it softens slightly. 

Time: 30 minutes to prepare, 1 hour to cool, 4-8 hours freezing time

Cocoa Treats: 4-6 servings

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31May 12

Chocolate Triangle Cake

Chocolate Triangle CakeThe Mayans were amazing and sophisticated people. They learnt how to cultivate cocoa trees, and they developed ways of fermenting and roasting the beans so that they could be consumed. At the same time the Roman Empire was peaking, the Mayans were building their huge pyramids.

 

So here’s a recipe inspired by those incredible Mayan Pyramids.  To create the unique shape of this chocolate triangle cake, the mixture is poured and set into a tilted cake tin.  I have used almonds and raisins in this recipe but you can substitute any dried fruit or nuts you like; for example hazelnuts, mixed nuts, dried apricots, de-stoned prunes, dates, or glacé cherries to name a few.

Ingredients:

  • 300g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 100-150g good dark chocolate
  • 170g digestive biscuits, broken into roughly shaped pieces
  • 125g raisins
  • 100ml evaporated milk
  • 100g almonds, roughly chopped
  • 100g white chocolate

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Take an 18cm square cake tin and line the base and 3 upright sides with clingfilm, leaving one side without film.
  2. Pour the evaporated milk into a heavy-bottom pan, add the milk chocolate and on a low heat, gradually melt and stir the mixture together.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool, but not to set.
  3. Stir in the nuts, raisins, and biscuit pieces.
  4. Place the cake tin at a 45 degree angle by propping it up on one side with a box.  It should sit with the unlined side of the tin being the side that is propped up, and therefore raised above the level of work surface. Transfer the cake mixture to the propped up tin, smooth the top surface and leave until it is firm.  At this stage you can put the tin into the fridge to set the cake completely.
  5. Once thoroughly set, remove the cake from the fridge, turn out of the tin and peel off the clingfilm.  If any bits of biscuit sit above the level of the chocolate mixture, you can slice these off so that the cake will sit flat on a serving plate.
  6. Melt the dark chocolate and spread it in a very thin layer over the top sides of the pyramid.
  7. Melt the white chocolate and drizzle in a decorative pattern for presentation.

Time:  20 minutes to prepare plus cooling and setting

Cocoa Treats: 10 servings

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21May 12

Chocolate Crepes with Hazelnut Liqueur

Chocolate CrepesChocolate Crepes are fun and easy to make with children or for the big kid in you!  You can experiment with different fruit fillings too – try raspberries or strawberries! Crepes Suzette is another fruit option for the orange lovers out there.

Ingredients:

For the crepe batter:

  • 120ml milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 ½ tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 5 tbsp plain flour
  • A few drops of vanilla essence
  • 2 tsp hazelnut liqueur

For the chocolate sauce:

  • ½ tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp hazelnut liqueur
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Make the crepe batter first.  Melt the butter and leave to one side to cool slightly.  Then mix the milk, butter, egg yolk, vanilla essence and hazelnut liqueur together in a medium-sized bowl.  Add the icing sugar, whisking it in until very well mixed.  Gradually add the flour, whisking it together until the crepe mixture is completely smooth. Put the batter to one side.
  2. Next make the chocolate sauce.  Take a saucepan, and add the butter to it, melting it nice and slowly over a low heat.  Stir in the milk and the hazelnut liqueur.  Add the cocoa powder and the icing sugar, combining all the ingredients thoroughly.  Turn the heat down very low to keep the mixture warm as you cook the crepes.
  3. So now it’s time to cook the crepes.  Grease the surface of a non-stick frying pan (or a crepe pan if you have one) with a little butter and place on a medium heat.  Pour in about 60ml of the crepe batter, swirl it into a thin disk and leave on the heat for around 2 mins before flipping it and cooking for a minute on the other side.  Have fun with the flipping too – call the family in to watch this bit!
  4. And to put it all together!  Pop the crepe on a plate and spoon over with the chocolate sauce.  Fold or roll the crepe as you like it, drizzle a little more chocolate sauce over the top, and sprinkle over with a little icing sugar.  Repeat the process until all 4 crepes are cooked, filled and decorated.

Note: These crepes are delicious with slices of chopped banana added too.

Time: 25 mins to prepare, 10 mins to cook

Cocoa Treats: 4

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12May 12

Chocolate Minty Cheesecake

Minty Chocolate CheesecakeMint and vanilla cheesecake makes for a fantastic flavour combination, but if you like mint chocolate, this dessert is for you. Chocolate Minty Cheesecake has a crunchy biscuit base, topped by a cream cheesecake with chocolate mint crunches in every mouthful. It is great for parties, and children love it.  Best served freestanding as it cuts nicely into wedges. You’ll need a loose bottom or spring-form tin to do the presentation justice.

 

Ingredients for the base:

  • 60g digestive biscuits
  • 120g milk chocolate digestive biscuits
  • 60g butter

Ingredients for the topping:

  • 1 tbsp powdered gelatine (or equivalent in gelatine sheets)
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 225g full fat soft cheese
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 115g mint chocolate crisp wafers or sticks
  • 2 eggs
  • 115ml whipping cream

Preparation Guidelines:

The base:

  1. Grease a deep, loose bottom, or spring-form tin (7 to 8 inches).
  2. Crush the biscuits either in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or in a mixer.
  3. Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the biscuits.
  4. Spoon into the base of the tin, and press down a little with the back of the spoon.
  5. Put to chill in the fridge.

The topping:

  1. While the base sets, sprinkle the gelatine over the water in a small bowl. Melt over a pan of hot water and leave to cool slightly.
  2. Beat the soft cheese together with half the castor sugar in a bowl.
  3. Break up the mint wafers or sticks, reserving a few for decoration, and stir into the cheese mixture.
  4. Separate the eggs and beat the yolks into the cheese mix.
  5. Beat in the cooled gel mixture.
  6. Whip the cream until thick, and fold in.
  7. Leave the mixture until it is on the point of setting (30 mins in fridge).
  8. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, and then beat in the remaining sugar.
  9. Fold the egg white and sugar; mix lightly but thoroughly into the cheese mix.
  10. Spoon into prepared base, tilt gently to level the surface, and chill in the fridge for a further 3-4 hrs.

To Serve:

Turn out of the tin and decorate with remaining mint wafers or sticks.

Note:    If you don’t have a loose bottomed or spring-form tin, use a flat-based glass dish; your dessert will look like a minty version of Eton Mess when you dish up, but it will still taste great.

Time:  30-40 mins to prepare, 3-4 hrs or overnight to set in fridge

Cocoa Treats:  8 servings

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08May 12

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip CookieI love to make these chocolate chip cookies with my niece.  I put on my duck egg blue apron – the one she loves with ice cream and lollipop prints on it – and she puts on the one with zoo animals.  We get covered in flour and plenty ends up on the floor, but that’s all part of the fun.

The best moments are popping the mixture onto the tray, watching together through the oven door (from a safe distance) as the cookies spread, and the crowning moment – eating the cookies together when they are still warm, cosied up together on the sofa with a big glass of milk.

These are the real thing; rich, gooey and melty.  The secret to melt-in-the-mouth cookies is not to overcook them. (Try these yummy chocolate chunk and raspberry cookies.)

Ingredients:

  • 355g flour, unsifted
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 225g butter, softened
  • 175g soft brown sugar
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 325g dark chocolate chips, or bar, broken into small pieces

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
  2. Put the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl and combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, bind together the sugar, butter, brown sugar and the vanilla essence.  Add the eggs and cream them into the mixture, then gradually work in the flour until well mixed.  Finally add the chocolate and stir it in.
  4. Sprinkle a little flour onto your work surface, lift the dough out of the mixing bowl and split it into 2, rolling each piece out into thick sausage shapes each about 6cm in diameter.  Once the shapes are formed, you can store the dough in the fridge wrapped in clingfilm until you want to use it.  This way you can grab a bit of dough each day over a few days to make totally fresh cookies whenever you want to enjoy them.
  5. When you are ready to bake some cookies, take the dough out of the fridge.  (You don’t have to cool the dough; you can bake it straight away after making it).
  6. Cut the dough ‘log’ into 2cm thick slices and space them fairly widely apart on a greased baking tray so that they don’t touch when spreading during cooking.
  7. Pop them in the oven for 9 to 11 mins.

Time: Less than 30 mins preparation time.  9-11 mins cooking time for each batch of cookies

Cocoa Treats: Makes 12 – 20 cookies

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01May 12

Dark Chocolate and Orange Mousse

Dark chocolate and orange mousseThis exquisitely intense dark chocolate and orange mousse is very simple and quick to put together.

But first… a little background story…

Quetzalcoatl and the cultivation of cocoa

We have to thank the ancient Mayan people for their gift of chocolate to the world.  The Aztecs originally gave it to the Spaniards because they mistook them for gods.  Maybe this is because the Spanish wore armour, and their commanders sported helmets with plumes – which would in the eyes of the Aztecs have linked them to the plumed serpent and guardian deity of the precious cocoa plants, Quetzalcoatl.  Legend has it that Quetzalcoatl was the one who revealed the secrets of the cocoa plant to his worshippers.  He showed them how to cultivate the tree and harvest and prepare the beans.  Quetzalcoatl is the father of all dark chocolatedesserts such as this trifle of four chocolates.

So, in honour of the tale, here is a fittingly dark chocolate Mousse.  It really is a pure celebration of taste and flavour.

Ingredients:

  • 150g good dark chocolate, Lindt 70%, or a darker one if you prefer, broken into pieces
  • 100g bar of Lindt Orange Intense chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 150g marshmallows
  • 50g butter, softened
  • 284ml tub of double cream
  • 45ml hot water, from a kettle that has boiled and left to cool a little
  • 3 tbsp Cointreau – optional… if you happen to have it in the house… if not, the recipe is perfectly scrumptious without it, just up the hot water content to 60ml.

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Melt the chocolate, butter and marshmallows together over a gentle heat in a heavy-based saucepan, stirring occasionally.
  2. Whilst the mixture is melting, pour the double cream into a mixing bowl and whip it into a thick consistency.
  3. Once the chocolate mixture is molten and combined, take the pan off the heat and stir in the Cointreau.
  4. Fold the cream gently into the cooling chocolate until smoothly and evenly mixed.
  5. Portion the mousse out into 4-6 serving dishes and either enjoy it straight away, or pop it in the fridge for later, or even the next day – if you can wait that long!
Note: For a nice presentation, try placing orange slices on the bottom of the glass as well as one on top.

Time: 30 minutes preparation time

Cocoa Treats: for 4 – 6 people

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10Apr 12

Chocolate Cake in a Mug

Chocolate Cake in a MugWell, here’s a little something completely different from the classic chocolate fudge cake.  There’s nothing posh about this cocoa treat, oh no… but chocolate cake in a mug is fast, fun and tasty to throw together for a mid-week pudding for the kids, or just for yourself whenever you need a little comfort food (shhhh don’t tell anyone).  If you’re making it just for one, simply halve the ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 8 tbsp self-raising flour
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 8 tbsp caster sugar
  • 6 tbsp milk
  • 6 tbsp chocolate chips
  • 6 tbsp sunflower oil
  • Splash of vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs

You will also need 2 large mugs

Preparation Guidelines:

Split all of the ingredients by half into 2 large mugs. Or, you can simply mix everything together in a bowl, then transfer the mixture evenly into the 2 mugs before cooking.

  1. First add all of the dry ingredients and stir them together with a teaspoon.
  2. Add the egg and thoroughly work the mixture together with the spoon.
  3. Add the oil and the milk and stir again.
  4. Splash in the vanilla essence, pour in the chocolate chips, and keep mixing.
  5. Cook the mixture in the mugs; put each mug in separately for 3 minutes (timing is for a 1000W microwave).
  6. Allow the cup to cool enough to handle it before you dig in to your yummy chocolate cake in a mug.

Note:    The cake mixture should rise over the top of the mug during cooking.

This cake is also really tasty eaten hot with vanilla ice cream, or any other flavour for that matter.  If you fancy it this way, simply transfer it to a bowl to serve and add the ice cream; the combination of hot cake and the ice cream will be wonderful!

Time: 5 minutes to prepare, 3 minutes to cook in the microwave for each mug of cake.

Cocoa Treats: Makes enough for 2 large mugs of cake!

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